We, the undersigned civil society organizations are gravely concerned with the continued use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) in spite of Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto to abolish the draconian provisions of this law that permits detention without trial. In addition, Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad stated in July 2018 that SOSMA would be abolished. The dragnet that led to the arrest and detention of at least 12 individuals with alleged link to the long-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is not only a betrayal of these promises but stands as yet another failure by the Pakatan Harapan administration in upholding fundamental principles of the rule of law and the right to fair trial. The Royal Malaysian Police has revealed that it has conducted an investigation into the alleged support for LTTE before conducting its operations and detaining the 12 individuals under SOSMA. This claim by Ayob Khan only puts the further question as to why SOSMA was even invoked to address the possible threat to the safety and security of Malaysia.
As countless human rights advocate and lawyers have raised in the past, the Criminal Procedure Code provides adequate powers and leeway for the Royal Malaysian Police to discharge its function as necessary. Section 105 of the Criminal Procedure Code grants police power to arrest to prevent seizable offence and powers to remand a person up a maximum of 14 days through the remand process.
If adequate investigation has been conducted and the Royal Malaysian Police already possess preliminary evidence as to the alleged crime committed by the 12 individuals, why are they not detained for further investigation under the Criminal Procedure Code and why is there a need for further extended remand under SOSMA when they ought to be produced and charged in court as soon as possible?
The suggestion that detention under SOSMA would provide the police with a more detailed statement as opposed to calling these individuals for a statement under Section 111 of the Criminal Procedure Code is equally as absurd. If these individuals are providing their full cooperation towards the investigation, there should be no difference as to when and where they provide their statement to the police. The only difference of having them under SOSMA detention is that they would be vulnerable to physical and mental abuse by the police as evidenced by countless former SOSMA detainees who have publicly revealed the gruesome torture and abuses experienced by them during the 28-days remand period.
Ayob Khan has thus far only revealed that the Royal Malaysian Police allegedly found flag, posters and pictures of LTTE leaders and that financial transaction supporting the cause of LTTE was detected. To this date, there is no known report as to what specific offences that these 12 individuals were allegedly detained for. As SOSMA is merely a procedural law that is used in conjunction with penal code offences or other offences listed within SOSMA’s schedule, the Royal Malaysian Police must reveal publicly the alleged offences these individuals are under investigation for.
We would like to reiterate to the Royal Malaysian Police and the Pakatan Harapan administration that the right to a fair trial is fundamental to the criminal justice system of any country. Without the guarantee that any person facing a criminal allegation against them would be provided a fair chance to defend themselves would only tarnish the integrity of our criminal justice system and erode public confidence in the system.
As the Internal Security Act 1960 was a draconian law and a relic of a darker time where gross human rights violations are a norm in Malaysia, SOSMA is a relic of the previous administration that cares not for fundamental rights and freedoms of Malaysian. There is no place for SOSMA in Malaysia if we aspire for greater democracy and development in the country and the retention of SOSMA will only erode any confidence Malaysians have in the sincerity of Pakatan Harapan in institutional reform.
To this end, we, the undersigned civil society organizations call for these 12 individuals to be released from SOSMA detention and for further investigation to be conducted in line with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and be charged in an open court.
Association of Women Lawyers
Beyond Borders Malaysia
Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Centre)
Centre for Independent Journalism
Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
Justice for Sisters
Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Women Section
Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
North South Initiative
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
Women Aid Organization (WAO)
Writer Alliance for Media